Wednesday, September 30, 2009
We first saw some of the highly regarded 'antiquities' (the big slabs on the bottom left). These aren't the antiquities that have caused the decision to halt the reconstruction of the camp, but you can see just how well they're regarded by the rubbish around them.
Below is some of the labelling for antiquities that may be part of the decision to stop the reconstruction...
Just one of the many buildings yet to be demolished...
We had to stop for a manoushe break - this has become my favourite snack, with thyme and cheese
And the little boy whose father owns the manoushe shop had to show us his chickens...
We dropped in to one of the schools, just as the change over between shifts was happening (some children go to school in the morning, others in the afternoons), and having three white people walking in resulted in a lot of excitement.
We wandered on and on, and into one of the most heavily damaged areas, where we came across a bulldozer who'd managed to get himself stuck against the side of a building, and take half his roof off...yep, the look on the operator's face said it all.
And on the way out, we passed this piece of graffiti:
"No more to lose cause game over"
I never got to see the total destruction of the 'old camp' as the clearing was well underway when I got here (check out this photo though). But it's still pretty incredible to walk around and see what's left - broken fans still hanging by a thread to ceilings, soft drink bottles still in crates in what used to be shops that are now behind razor wire. I've seen people live in worse conditions than this, but not in plain sight of what used to be their homes. It's sobering.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
I miss the old days, when it was just you and me. When your counter ran vertically up the store, and all you had was chicken or beef and the green stuff mixed in with onions, and garlic sauce, and the nasty pickles and tomato. And I just had to point at the stuff I wanted. I miss those days. Now you're so busy all the time, and your counter is horizontal to the street and you're full of leering men. And you have lettuce and cabbage and other white stuff that isn't garlic sauce. What happened to you man? You used to be so cool. No, I take that back Shwarma Man, you're still the best value in town, and so conveniently located.
You'll always be my go-to guy for nommy goodness.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
*I really feel like I need to clarify that that was a joke. I do not own a single leotard, but am considering tracking one down for fancy dress purposes...
The AlertNet Challenge
"I ated the purple berries...they taste like...burning!" Ralph
"Woah, this is just like Speed 2, but on a bus instead of a boat!" Milhouse
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
At climate change talks in New York today, Mr Clinton described Mr Rudd as one of the most "well informed, well read, intelligent leaders in the world today"...
Mr Keating told The World Today Mr Clinton can pick a top-notch leader when he sees one, adding Mr Clinton had also praised him for being a smart leader."He's got an eye for quality, that Bill," Mr Keating said."He used to think that about me at the time."
Come on now Paul, that's a bit of very sad attention grabbing stuff there...you gave us the recession we had to have, and more importantly, you had a fantastically hilarious musical written about you, so cheer up and let K-Rudd have his special moment with Bill!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Oh, and how bout this. I just peered over the balcony to have another look at the skirmish and there's a tiny little girl, barely sitting up in a stroller, caressing and pointing a gun at her mother. Awwwwwww! *sarcasm*
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I'm a 27 year old female who recently broke up with her boyfriend. We'd been together for 5 months, but had been friends for 2 years before and eventually we started dating. A few weeks ago, we were supposed to have lunch with my brother but he didn't show up. No call, no text. He avoided my calls for a few days. Finally he answered and he told me that the death of Michael Jackson had really affected him and that he needed some time..."
Jenny's response started with the line "my bullshit detector is going absolutely apeshit!" We were giggling so hard at this point, and the old man sitting alone at the table behind us kept looking over at us in confusion.
So guys and girls, if you're looking for a way to get out of that relationship, and feel like the truth is too hard, just tell the other person that the death of MJ, or Patrick Swazye, or whoever springs to mind has really changed the way you see the world and that as a result, you can't be together anymore!
You've got to give the guy credit for originality!!
The first stop was for some refuelling, in the form of felafel, and I noticed this:
all the vegetables were dyed pink.
I'm guessing it was from one particular vegetable, which I don't like. It kind of has the consistency of a turnip, but its being bright pink is its only redeeming feature.
Anyways, we took our lunch to the Chateau de la Mer (the Sea Castle), which funnily enough, was an old castle (13th century) on the sea.
We then strolled up to the old souk, where we found the soap museum. It was a fantastically renovated old house that now explores the history of soap.
I'll admit, we didn't really read much further than saponification, but had a bit of fun anyway.
After more wandering through the souk we jumped back on the bus to Beirut, as there was supposed to be a Palestinian hip hop show on. But something put a stop to that:
There was a hell of a lot of thunder and lightning and we took this snap just in time
the heavens opened and down it came. We ended up going to a dive bar with the friend of Yassmin's who kindly put us up for the night, and we had a great night chatting away to various people. I really do need to spend more time in Beirut and make more friends that I don't work with!!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Just like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, except sadly, there was a distinct lack of oompa loompas...
We tried a couple of dishes, one that's a Palestinian specialty, which was made of cheese, and this one:
For the life of me, I couldn't work out what the brown goop was, delicious yes, but unidentifiable.
It's now the first day of a four day weekend to celebrate Eid, and today we're heading south to check out Tyre, where there are white sandy beaches (the key word being sandy, as that's a rarity in these parts!) and maybe Saidar as well. Then tonight it will be a night out in Beirut, and who knows what tomorrow will bring! There's talk of some apple picking and wine tasting in the Beq'aa valley at some point as well...think it's going to be a pretty great weekend!!
Somali govt says rebels have more car bombs ready
By Abdi Sheikh
MOGADISHU, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Somalia's al Shabaab insurgents have six more stolen United Nations vehicles primed as suicide bombs, the government said on Friday.
President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's administration says it will not be bowed by twin suicide car bombs that hit the African Union's (AU) main base in Mogadishu on Thursday, killing 17 AU peacekeepers including the AMISOM force's deputy commander.
But the audacious attack by two U.N.-marked cars on the heart of the peacekeeping mission raises serious questions about the credibility of the deeply divided government, which controls little more than a few districts of the capital. (Click the link above for the full article.)
This is absolutely terrifying. To take a UN vehicle, something that symbolises so much, and use it to target who knows what is an absolute disgrace. Somalia is hands down at the top of my "no go list," and I admire beyond words the aid workers who risk everything to try to help the Somali people. There's a woman I know here who spent three years in Somalia, I'll have to ask her opinion on this.
How can a bombing possibly be averted, when UN vehicles are protected against any sort of searches (and rightly so)? By publicising the number plates of the stolen vehicles, so if any of them approach anything people will be able to check it against the list they're carrying around with them and know to get the hell out of there? Obviously not.
The state minister for defence, Sheikh Yusuf Mohamed Siad, seems to have a good plan: "People will see what we'll do to them. They are not Muslims ... We know each other. Let's wait and see what happens next."
Yeah, wait and see, that sounds like a great idea...
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Well done David. If you're ever in the neighbourhood, do drop by for a cup of tea! (For David I will pretend to like tea, that's how much I love him!)
Apparently I'm now Ukrainian...
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
What was originally supposed to include a march, ended up being a gathering beside the road near the UN compound. In all honesty, it was a pretty pathetic protest. There are 27,000 odd residents of NBC. There would have been 400 people there if they were lucky. Yes, there were people with placards, there was a sound system hooked up with people making speeches. But there was no passion, no anger.
A few young guys approached me after I took a photo of this sign -
the only sign in English - and they asked me if I spoke English. I gave them a funny look and said that of course I spoke English. Only one of them could, and he told me how the English language lessons they received were terrible. I assured him that his English was quite good, and far superior to the few words of Arabic I've picked up so far. Yassmin joined us and translated what the other guys were saying. I asked why there were so few people here. They told us that the people in the camp are too disappointed with the situation, that they are somewhat resigned to nothing ever happening.
That's what gets to me. I mean, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Palestinian refugees have been here for 60 years, the fact that anyone has hope that there'll be a solution is inspiring. But to have been homeless as well as stateless for the past 2 years, and to have the courts hand down a decision to halt the process even further, well isn't that something to protest about? Isn't that something to be angry about?
Then again, when they've been living in a country where the national population doesn't appreciate their existence, you can understand why they might be unwilling to take a stand. Now of course there are exceptions to this, one of the driving forces behind the protest today was a Lebanese woman. But the overwhelming feeling against the Palestinians in this country is obvious...so obvious that someone had to scratch this into the boom gate that leads into the UN compound.
It's the first line that's the kicker - where are they supposed to "go home" to??
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
"He played a wide range of characters both on stage and in movies and his celebrated performances made the hard work of acting look effortless - which I know from experience is not easy," Schwarzenegger said.
Arnie, making acting look effortless...that's like saying Keanu Reeves has a wide range of facial expressions (but I still love you Keanu!)
And here's Patrick Swayze (and also, the late Chris Farley) in one of his finest pieces of work
What I love about Ash is their ability to swing between rock and absolute pop. They never reached the heights of Blur or Oasis during the Britpop explosion, but they've continually released albums which covered a broad spectrum of styles...there's an Ash song, no, an album, to suit any mood, any occassion.
Monday, September 14, 2009
One of my colleague's has a Danish friend who's a DJ, who invited us to a party at a beach club. There were four DJs, one from Africa, two from South America, and this Danish guy - the night was full of fabulous Latin and African music. The setting was wonderful - the restaurant/bar is right on the water in a little cove. Yassmin and I shamelessly got the dancing started at around 10pm and slowly but surely, others followed.
At about 2:30am it was time for a swim (having smartly worn our togs) and the water was the perfect temperature...but the wind, which had been blowing a bit of a gale, got me out of the water pretty quickly. It took me a while to notice, but the smell of dirt was heavy in the air, and sure enough, it started to rain. A light spray at first, then big fat drops, and then a steady pour.
While a number of people left with the rain, we continued to dance and it was a wonderful night to socialise with friends from Beirut and meet people from all over the world. We were blistered, our muscles ached, we were among the last to leave. It was definitely one of the best nights I've had in Lebanon.
Friday, September 11, 2009
So I decided to send in my favourite "smug shot", from Bolivia, and it got published online today...it might just appear in the Escape travel section of the Sunday Mail this weekend.
A good size group of people from the office went out this evening to share iftar together, and it was nice to spend time with people outside of the compound.
When I have iftar at home with Yassmin, I don't tend to eat a lot, but tonight I outdid myself. I even tried a dish, that I can't remember the name of now, but it was basically raw mince meat. The colleague I was sitting next to is the head of our health unit, and he assured me that it was safe to eat...and who am I to disobey doctor's orders - it was quite tasty!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
So here it is, the Big Mac Index explained:
Burgernomics is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity, the notion that a dollar should buy the same amount in all countries. Thus in the long run, the exchange rate between two countries should move towards the rate that equalises the prices of an identical basket of goods and services in each country. Our "basket" is a McDonald's Big Mac, which is produced in about 120 countries. The Big Mac PPP is the exchange rate that would mean hamburgers cost the same in America as abroad. Comparing actual exchange rates with PPPs indicates whether a currency is under- or overvalued. Follow the link above to the Economist's site on the BMI...
On top of this, Cox's Bazar is getting a new eco lodge. The Mermaid Eco Resort is opening up soon, and will have a number of small bungalows. Part of the Mermaid family which includes a couple of fantastic restaurants on the beach, this will make a nice getaway for those making the trip down to Cox's. Seriously, the Mermaid Cafe was one of the places to feel like we'd escaped Bangladesh, it had more of a Cambodian beach vibe about it.
There's also a great lodge operated by The Guide Tours in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region which was extremely relaxing and quiet (a rare treat in Bangladesh).
They also do wonderful boat tours of the Sundarbans magrove forest.
In a nutshell, if you're considering an off the beaten track holiday, Bangladesh will definitely fulfill your desire to be somewhere cheap, where the people are friendly, the gutters are smelly and the scenery beautiful (once you get out of the cities). Just pick up a copy of the Bradt guide and learn how to say "bideshi bhara bolben na, deshi bhara bolun" (don't tell me the foreigner fare, tell me the local fare) to all the rickshaw and CNGs wallas that will attempt to rip you off (not that you can blame them for trying!).
I could really go a meat pie right now...
Can you guess what the above is?
Go and check out the other flags, and test your knowledge of flags (or food)...
The movie, Rang De Basanti, was brilliant. It's the story of a British filmmaker, who comes across the diary of her grandfather, who'd served as a jailer in the British Army during the Indian independence movement. Through the dairy, she learns the story of five freedom fighters. She decides to make a film about the revolutionaries, and casts a group of university students. While initially unable to relate to the material, the idealism of revolution becomes more relevant to them, and they gradually realise their own lives are similar to the characters they play, and that the state of affairs that once plagued the revolutionaries continues to torment their generation. (Source: wiki)
It was a very moving and tragic film, and also extremely long (the cover said "over 162 minutes). But if you can track down a copy, I highly recommend it.
10-19 - Set off fire crackers at all times of the day and night
20-29 - Hoon around in your hotted up beamer, slowing down whenever you pass a woman of any age so she can better appreciated your sub-woofers pumping out sappy love songs (like "My Heart Will Go On). If you can't afford a beamer, a scooter or motorbike will suffice, in which case, hoon up and down the road practicing your wheelies
30-39 - Realise that women aren't so different and strange after all, getting married and settle down
40-49 - Become a functioning and contributing member of society
50-59 - Go through a midlife crisis and become a taxi driver where you can yell at everyone, honk your horn excessively, and try to run down the guys on scooters
60- 100 - Become a functioning and contributing member of society
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
The Modern Young Lady's Guide to Coups, Contagions & Calamity
Tales from the Hood
My friend Rich has issued himself the challenge of living on $1 (US$1.25) a day for the next month and has started a blog to track his progress...there have been some teething problems, but you can get in on it now as it's just starting out.
And for a bit of humour, Melinda Forever! - you must read the Ebonoergonomic Keyboard post. Since a lot of my colleagues went and saw Snoop Dogg in concert, there has been a lot of "fo shizzle" talk going on here...
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
That's an excerpt from another news article (Roman ruins put Nahr al Bared camp rebuild at risk) about the halting of reconstruction in Nahr el-Bared. And the bold text above is the point I'm struggling with the most - the Roman ruins I've seen in Baalbeck are falling apart, and yet people are allowed to climb all over them. I'm not aware of what ruins they've found on the site of Nahr el-Bared, but surely 20,000 people needing homes takes priority. Maybe the FPM should concentrate on preserving the Roman ruins already out in the public eye...
What I will show you here, in typical deep and provocative Carly style, is Hitler's reaction to the news that Oasis split up...some people have waaaaaaaaaaay to much time of their hands, but I'm thankful of that, as I really needed 4 minutes to calm myself down after discovering some finance mistakes in the report that I really, really thought was over and done with three times already!!
Monday, September 7, 2009
Apparently 1/3 of the world drives on the left hand side of the road...I think more countries should follow Samoa's lead and start the switch. Apparently Sweden went to the dark side in 1967, and a few African nations in the 1970s. It's time for the world to come back to the light side...if only to make it easier for me to drive in other countries...
Notice the sour faces...!
It was a pretty laid back evening to start, hanging out on the balcony which every agreed was the largest in Tripoli!
But once the tequila had kicked in, Yassmin and I got the dancing started, and it didn't stop till 3:30am...there was even a one man dance off...
Our house is now suitably warmed!
After getting a decent sleep in, and doing nothing more than watching a few episodes of True Blood during the day, a few of us headed down to Beirut to Bob's for another party, which thankfully ended up being more of a quiet gathering. The differences between Australians, Brits, and Americans (and Norweigans and Danes come to think of it) proved for hilarious fodder (but tell me, is there anything wrong with pronouncing poor, pour and paw the same way?) and even though it was a quiet night, we were still up at 2:30.
Yassmin and I left relatively early this morning to come home, and I cringed when she told me we had to go to another party tonight! Thankfully, it's been cancelled so I can enjoy a lazy G&T on the balcony instead! I've just heard my first thunder since I got here 2 months ago (happy anniversary to me again) and hopefully there'll be some rain to cool things down a bit.